Lacking Transparency

Dear Editor:

As former residents of Surfside, and concerned citizens, a friend and I attempted to attend the presentation given by Alma Realty at the Rockaway Hotel on Wednesday, December 28, regarding the proposed development of several additional buildings on the existing Surfside property the existing Surfside property.

We were met outside the doors of the meeting room by an associate of Alma Realty, Gijo George, who asked us if we’d received an email about the event. We stated that we hadn’t received an email but had heard about the meeting from someone who had. Mr. George stated, “We didn’t realize there would be so much interest.” He asked us to place our names and emails on a list and we would be contacted for a future presentation. There were at least 15-20 names of people on the list who had also showed up and were turned away. At least some were residents of Surfside.

I asked why, when there were 750 apartments in Surfside, were there only emails sent to select neighborhood residents (at least some of whom did not live in the complex), to attend a meeting in a room that only accommodated 30 people? And further, why did Alma think there would be little interest in a project that would have a major impact on Surfside’s thousands of residents? There were no answers given.

At that point, Mr. Nicholas Conway, in charge of the Surfside complex for Alma Realty, poked his head out of the meeting room briefly. When we attempted to ask him if we could be let into the presentation, he said quickly to Mr George, “Take their names. Thank you for your interest,” and closed the door.

A few minutes later, we heard from someone who was in the meeting, that there were about a dozen people in attendance, with plenty of room for more.

It appears that there is an attempt to control who has access to these presentations. There are myriad issues with the existing buildings at Surfside, especially in terms of adequate heat and hot water. Rockaway should be very concerned about this seeming lack of transparency by the owners of this already troubled property.

Bernadette Maxfield

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